Forsyth Tech asks for budget increase from Forsyth County
BY TODD LUCK
Before Forsyth Technical Community College President Dr. Gary Green presented a budget proposal to county commissioners, he gave an update on the $65 million in Forsyth Tech bond projects voters approved last year.
One of those projects is a $16.6 million aviation lab at the Smith Reynolds Airport that will train students to work on the mechanical body of planes. The airport recently saw its biggest tenant, North State Aviation, shut down. North State did exactly the sort of work that’ll be taught in the planned program.
Green said during the county commissioners’ briefing last week that the college has looked “very carefully at aviation” and has determined the job market is still good. He said conversations with other aviation employers in the area have indicated that it’s still a high- demand field.
“There is now and is going to continue to be a really significant need for MRO, maintenance renovation and overhaul technicians, in the area,” said Green about what the aviation companies told him.
He told commissioners the college will continue to monitor the situation and plans to have an initial site plan done by month’s end.
On other bond projects, Green said the college is also readying to start facility maintenance and do $21 million of construction to complete the Old Oak Grove Center. He said the college also got $5.8 million from the statewide Connect NC bond referendum. He said $5 million will go to operations and facilities in Forsyth County, such as needed demolitions and infrastructure work that includes replacing 50-year-old water lines. The rest of the funds will be used on the college’s Stokes County campus.
Though bonds are used for large capital projects, the college relies on funds allocated annually in the county budget for regular facilities needs, which includes the salaries of the maintenance staff and others who maintain the college’s campuses. By state law, counties fund community college facilities, while the state funds their curriculum, including faculty and instructional equipment. Tuition paid to the college goes to a state fund, which the college gets back in its curriculum funding.
Green asked for more than $10.4 million dollars from the county, a relatively small increase over its current budget allocation of about $10.2. He said the increase is mainly because of utilities costs, along with salary increases to keep county-funded employees on a similar level with those funded by the state.
Forsyth Tech has a history of relatively small increases in its budget requests, and getting most of what it asks for. It requested $10.3 million for this fiscal year and got almost $10.2 million. For the 2015-2016, the college requested $10.1 million and received a little over $10 million.
“Forsyth County, I think, has done a good job funding us through good years and not so good years in terms of revenues that are available,” said Green,
That’s not true for community colleges in every county, Green said, telling commissioners that some struggle to keep buildings open because of fluctuating county revenue.
Forsyth Tech funding is just one of many things the county will be considering over the next few months as it prepares its budget for next fiscal year, which will go into effect on July 1.